Poling Updates BOE Regarding Bus Fleet Issues

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By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate

                   All board members were in attendance at the September 16 gathering of the Board of Education representatives of Tucker County Schools.  Following The Pledge of Allegiance, President Tim Turner called the meeting to order and moved down the agenda into reports.

Harry Poling, Transportation Supervisor, was present to speak on the issues within the bus fleet.  He provided documentation to the board on the last several units purchased, explaining the former procedure was to purchase one bus one year, and the following to purchase a pair.  However, within the last six years, there has only been one purchased per year, “Which means we’re down approximately three buses right now and the age and the rust are just eating us up with that liquid salt,” he explained.  He drew attention to a highlighted bus, number 5A, and informed that though this is one of the spare buses, the inspector informed Poling he would not inspect it this year, leaving only two spares.  He continued to note three other buses are experiencing turbo issues.  “If we don’t get an extra bus in the next year, we’re going to be in dire need,” he stated.

                   Board member Cathy Hebb asked about a recent approval for a new bus, to which Poling responded its estimated arrival timeframe is in January, which he said would help out some.  He continued down the list of the buses stating that bus 12A would potentially provide three more years of service; however, it will never be able to be moved to a spare due to the extensive amount of rust.  “As you see, there are nine of them that have got over 100,000 miles and we’ve only got a grand total of seventeen buses in the whole fleet, counting the spares,” Poling added.  One of the buses with the turbo issues, bus 17A, also has over 170,000 miles on it; being the bus that travels to the Barbour County line as well as to TCHS daily.  Hebb asked if the buses with longer routes could be switched periodically with those with shorter ones to help even out the miles, but Poling explained the buses don’t get changed until they reach a certain mileage, therefore it wouldn’t matter which buses were on each route.  “So what’s the mileage you replace them at?” asked Hebb.  “The average is about 148,000,” explained Poling as he went further in depth about the constant turbo issues they experience which need to be replaced more than once over the average lifetime of each bus.  Hebb asked why the fleet quit purchasing on the two one year, one the next routine, which Jonathan Hicks, Director of Supportive Services, explained it was due to state funding cuts.

                   Hicks then provided the board with an update regarding the HVAC project taking place at TVEMS.  “As far as the roof goes, they’re about 70% done with the roof.  That doesn’t mean any finishing work around the edges, this is just the roof covering that’s about 70% complete,” he informed.  “The gym was completed just recently and the cafeteria is either almost complete or they may be completing it this week,” Hicks stated.  He added approximately 80% of the ceilings and interior lights have also been completed, and that work will continue in those classrooms, though none of the hallways have been done as of yet.  Cafeteria work will take place during breaks to not interfere with daily meals, but all ductwork has been cleaned and new broilers have been installed with new pipe to come soon.

                   Finance Director Tracy Teets had requested a special board session to be held Monday, September 30, preferably in the morning.  “The purpose is to approve the 2018-19 financial statements to submit to the state, which are due on September 30,” Turner explained.  This meeting will take up at 8 a.m.  Turner, along with Hebb and board member Jessica Wamsley recently attended a meeting explaining the recent passing of House Bill 206.  The attending members hesitate to provide many details regarding this session due to the uncertainty and interpretations still in process.  While there, Hebb spoke with the Superintendent from Grant County who shared a reading program that has significantly impacted their test scores, so she is scheduling a day to visit those schools and learn more to bring back to Tucker County.

                   New business followed with approval of the consent agenda items.  The previous meeting minutes were approved as well as the payment of bills.  A request to transfer a student from DTEMS to TVEMS was honored along with three notification of intent to homeschool and approval of a TCHS job shadow site at the Tucker 911 Center.

                   Alicia Lambert, Superintendent of Tucker County Schools, was unable to attend the meeting, therefore Hicks carried out her duties per her request.  Lambert suggested the approval of the following employment:  Michael Lamb, TCHS automotive teacher, Stephen Strothers as a substitute teacher, and Angela Nestor, elementary education and specials teacher at DTEMS.  Moving into service personnel, it was recommended to accept a resignation by Alisha Winans as substitute aide, effective September 10 as well to employ Jenny Lipscomb as a cook II at TVEMS, both of which were approved.  Under extra-curricular positions, Lambert suggested consideration of the following:  Christine Ward, Donna Akins, and Kelly Reed as extended day teachers at TVEMS, effective for the 2019-2020 school year.  This too passed unanimously.

                   The next meeting of the Tucker County Board of Education will be on Monday, October 7 at 4:30 p.m., and will be at DTEMS.  Thursday, October 10 will be the WVSBA Region 7 meeting at Bridgeport, and October 18 and 19 will be the WVSBA 2019 Educational Leadership Conference at Lakeview Resort and Conference Center in Morgantown.